Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed his ninth round of questioning by police on Tuesday, this time – for the first time – about the Case 3000 Submarines Affair, in which he is a witness.
According to Channel 2 News, this was as much as a surprise to the prime minister as it was to the media, both of which had been expecting the questioning to be about Case 4000. The questioning lasted for some five hours.
“We would like to confirm that the prime minister today gave testimony for several hours, as part of an investigation conducted by the Lahav 433 unit,” the Israel Police said on Tuesday afternoon.
“The investigation is being conducted with the supervision of the State Attorney and with the approval of the attorney-general. We cannot elaborate on additional details from ongoing investigations.”
The Prime Minister’s Office also released a statement saying: “Prime Minister Netanyahu gave open testimony in Case 3000. He elaborated on the range of professional considerations that guided him in his decision-making regarding submarines and naval vessels and their importance to national security. The prime minister welcomes the opportunity given to him to clarify the picture in its entirety and put an end once and for all to the false allegations made against him by politicians and others.”
Case 3000 is a police corruption investigation into Israel’s purchase of German-made naval vessels. Miki Ganor, ThyssenKrupp’s sales representative in Israel, as well as other top defense officials and top aides to Netanyahu are accused of committing fraud and skimming off the top in a deal for Israel to buy nuclear submarines from the German company.
Netanyahu lawyer and confidante David Shimron, his top personal foreign envoy Yitzhak Molcho, his former chief of staff David Sharan, his former deputy national security adviser Avriel Bar-Yosef and former navy chief Eliezer Marom, are all accused of being part of the scheme. Ganor became a state’s witness in late July.
In response to Netanyahu’s questioning, Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid called on the prime minister to reveal what he knew about the case.
“Now that Netanyahu has testified in the submarines affair, it is time he explained why he authorized the sale of advanced submarines to the Germans. Who asked him for it? And why?” asked Lapid.
Netanyahu is also expected to be questioned again in Case 4000, also known as the “Bezeq Affair,” after state witness Nir Hefetz – the former spokesman for the Netanyahu family – provided new information last month.
Case 4000 refers to a corruption investigation looking into the relationship between Netanyahu and Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch, who also owns the Walla news site. Investigators are expected to present Netanyahu with the evidence provided by Hefetz.
Police suspect Netanyahu acted to benefit Bezeq in return for favorable coverage on the news site. Police also suspect that Sara Netanyahu was in touch with Elovitch’s wife, Iris, and through her acted to receive favorable coverage in Walla.
MK Eitan Cabel of the Zionist Union is set to be questioned in Case 2000 on Thursday.
Case 2000 probes an alleged arrangement between Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken his competitor Israel Hayom in exchange for better coverage of him in Mozes’s paper.
Netanyahu is expected to be questioned another three to four times regarding the three investigations.
Udi Shaham and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.